Covering an area of 6.7 million square kilometers and stretching over eight different countries, it’s no wonder that vast tracks of the Amazon rainforest remain virtually untouched by modern life and unexplored by modern science.
Every year more is discovered about the Amazon jungle and its inhabitants, with new plant, insect and animal species identified on a regular basis. One of the most exciting and important new discoveries is that of a new species of river dolphin, one of the rarest and most endangered of all Amazon species.
Though the discovery of the Inia araguaiaensis river dolphin has only just been announced, the dolphin itself has been seen in the waters of the Araguaia River for years.
However, scientists working in the area hadn’t looked closely enough at the species to appreciate that it was uniquely different when compared to its Amazon cousins.
Smaller and with fewer teeth than its relatives downstream, the discovery of the Araguaia dolphin shows just how much we still have to learn about the Amazon jungle and its staggering biodiversity.
Weather conditions in the Amazon jungle roughly divide into two seasons, the low water season (June to November) and the high water season (December to May).
During the high water season the waterways become flooded, allowing boats, visitors and dolphins deep into the jungle and lifting them up towards the jungle canopy. In the low water season, the waters recede, reducing the area that dolphins and people can explore.
The river dolphin is usually easy to spot in both seasons. Though you may not be able to tell the difference between the Amazon dolphin and the Araguaia dolphin from the boat, your guide may be able to explain their characteristics.
The best way to travel into the heart of the rainforest and to learn as much as possible about the Amazon jungle is by boat.
Amazon cruises run throughout the year, taking passengers deep into the jungle and bringing them face to face with river dolphins and many of the other creatures that call this incredible place home.
Jungle cruises also give visitors the chance to be surrounded by the forest and to experience the river and surrounding landscape in all of its different moods.
The discovery of the Araguaia dolphin is just the latest example of how much science still has to learn about the Amazon Jungle and shows that, even though the jungle is under threat, it is still one of the most diverse, exciting and mysterious places on earth.